Hamilton County School Board Members discuss safety, discipline

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CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) – There is a struggle to get School Resource Officers hired in Hamilton County Schools.

There are currently nine unfilled positions and four more vacancies coming from SROs going on leave.

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Now, the school system is looking to fill a new safety position.

Thursday night, Board Members approved the creation of a Student Security Officer job.

It’s different from an SRO.

According to the request, the student security officer would work with the school district and law enforcement to establish and monitor appropriate regulations, procedures and plans to ensure safe and secure school facilities.

“This is also to help us tighten up even more on some of our procedures. Absolutely our SROs do a great job in the places that they are in, but we also know that we have many schools that are uncovered from a stand point of day to day and even at full, at full capacity at 36, 37 however many SROs we have if we were at full strength we would still have multiple schools that are uncovered in a full-time SRO capacity,” Superintendent Dr. Bryan Johnson said.

The plan is to use funds from the unfilled SRO jobs to pay for the new position.

Board Members also approved some of those funds to be used for recruiting SROs by providing bonuses.

Discipline continues to be a discussion among Hamilton County School Board Members.

Thursday night, they approved several policies.

Some on behavior, the alternative school and discipline.

They also discussed access to the alternative school and how to better meet the students’ needs.

School Board Member Dr. Steve Highlander wants the board to specifically look at discipline on buses.

According to school staff, there have been some issues on buses, but not as bad as years past.

“I feel like it’s as serious as discipline needs in a classroom and I strongly believe in that, but I think it’s also. It’s immediately a danger if someone is disruptive on a school bus. If they distract the driver it can cause a wreck. It can cause every child to have major, major harm,” Dr. Highlander said.

He said at a later time, they will look at adding an amendment about bus discipline.

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